(who took this photo? Pls contact me so I can give credit)
Once upon a time I stumbled quite fortuitously upon a wizened crow who disclosed to me; (in exchange for the promise of a hot dog that had fallen into the dirt)- how to identify gnomes. She said they disguise themselves cleverly when people are about, as ordinary things; a mushroom, a stump or perhaps a jumble of lush moss… I asked if it was ever possible I could glimpse one in its true form but she said this was not likely to happen. Indeed her tone hinted that she thought me quite daft!
I carefully fed the crow only half of the hot dog. After she’d choked it down her gullet in one irregular swallow, I apprised her of the fact that I was a raven in a previous life (thus the hair) and would she please, tell me more. She bristled; her obsidian feathers glistening as they do, like rainbows in oil slicks. She cocked one bead-like eye at me and that’s when she really started expressing herself. She truly yearned for the other half of that hot dog; dirt or no dirt you see…
The crow told me gnomes (along with faeries) added color to the world and this was as I had suspected. They did so with (the crow paused for emphasis) microscopic fungi spores! Their sole job, which they are born to do, said the crow-is to protect Earth’s treasures: crystals, trees, plants, minerals and the like. Why, the very crow I was talking to had given a desert gnome a ride a third of the way home to Arizona because you see, she’d come to visit a wood gnome relative here in the East. They often ride on animals.
Since the encounter with that chatty forthcoming bird, it has been my pursuit to accrue knowledge about these mysterious “humanoid” beings, the gnomes. I have always imagined them as quite like their yard statue “likenesses” which my crow friend told me with a KRRoaring cackle-they do so without a doubt resemble the ceramic statues we have come to regard as “stereotypical gnomeness.”! Some are tall and thin, she said with a shrug, and some are short and squat. I regarded our interaction with a grain of salt as they say, as there was something glinting in her eye…
One winter I came across, purely by serendipity, a fluffy willow catkin that was fashioned quite like a doll! Gnomes at work? I would venture a yes. (Why, I daresay these elemental creatures have become my fervent passion now!) Beside the catkin ‘doll,’ I peered about when of a sudden I caught myself a glimpse of a little male figure, on the tall side, and of antiquated features but spry on his sandaled feet! He wore a semi pointed brown hat and a henna-beige overcoat with side pockets! I followed his swift progress into a crawlway beneath some snow and directly behind my flower pot, which had slumbering bulbs within its frozen dirt.
I was confused after this sighting. The crow had had a good laugh when I’d asked if gnomes resembled the ‘gnome pottery’ we humans are so accustomed to seeing pushing wheelbarrows and the like as decorative yard art. She told me they certainly did resemble our ceramic portrayals of them. But the one I saw, whom I came to call ‘Rudolph,’ most certainly did not wear a red hat! Could it be the crow had told me some of the truth and fabricated the rest? Sure it is possible. Either that or some wear red and some don’t.
I’ve heard whispers amongst the neighborhood population of feral cats that some gnomes play bagpipes and tell a fine limerick. Really now? Are these cats to be believed or have they too much time on their paws, and therefore knowing I was eavesdropping, commenced to tell falsehoods?
I suppose I’ll never know for sure if these things are true but I know most sincerely what I saw that day. There was indeed a tunnel under the snow behind my terracotta pot… Mouse hole? Could be. But I took a small shovel to it and dispelled that thought (after giving the little being in the cap I’d seen, time enough to disappear into the earth). It was not an easy dig, as the ground was quite hard and froze up; but what my shovel revealed was something akin to disbelief! There were wee wooden barrels; each no bigger than thimbles, finely crafted I might say here, with staves and tiny metal hoops; some with lids, most without. They were lined up alongside one “wall” of the hollow in the ground. What was in the open barrels resembled mounds of seeds and grains or something quite similar… Adjacent to the barrels were pocket-size holes; (at least a half dozen) that led away and underneath the great Maple tree roots in my very own back yard! On the underside of one mighty root I was able to discern (with a flashlight I procured from my own house) drying bundles of ‘herbs’ wrapped and tied with teeny raffia; hanging there from the tree root ceiling in perfect alignment.
I immediately covered the hole with dirt and snow and tried to leave it as I’d discovered it; now wouldn’t you have done the same? And I have not unearthed it since. I know now, as do the strays and ravens, crows and other animals of the earth, that gnomes are not myths, legends or lore. They live outside our doors! The following pictures I share with you are actual photos of my “Rudolph” (that is what I have chosen to call him). Yes, this is a wood carving I did myself of the actual gnome I got a gander at that fateful magickal winter day…
Kimberly, author of Under The Banana Moon- http://www.amazon.com/Under-Banana-Moon-Living-Aspergers/dp/1469985144/ref=tmm_pap_title_0